Lync 2010 Application Development

The guys at Convergent have been busy, real busy working on Lync 2010 application development. Here are two examples of what they have to offer:


Two great examples of the ability Lync 2010 has beyond the out of the box capabilities. Well done to the guys at Convergent for taking Lync to the next level.

If you interested in Lync custom development you may also want to check out other posts I did on the topic.

Lync with Bing Translator

UCMA 3.0

Comments welcomed.


Lync Client 2010 Encryption Settings

By default Lync has the default encryption settings for media set to required. This is not always preferable when doing interoperability with devices that do not support SRTP or have not implemented SRTP the same as Microsoft. In a perfect world everyone would implement this standard the same. But if you have ever tried to do interoperability with Tandberg to OCS 2007 R2 you will know that it’s not the perfect world we would hope for.

In Communicator 2007 R2 the security setting for encryption could be changed via GPO or registry setting and looked like this:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00



In this example I am changing the setting to supported from required. So as long as the other end device supports encryption it will negotiate SRTP if not it will do RTP.

Well now with in-band provisioning in Lync there is a PowerShell command that can control this setting:

set-csmediaconfiguration –identity global –encryptionlevel supportencryption

In this case I am globally changing the security level of the client from required to supported. This is an important piece of information to know in regards to Media Bypass with vendors that have do not interoperate with SRTP to Lync. I will talk more about it in my next post on Media Bypass. There is a large networking company that this will come in handy for (and its not HP).

Get-CsMediaConfiguration –identity global

Identity            : Global
EnableQoS           : False
EncryptionLevel     : RequireEncryption
EnableSiren         : False
MaxVideoRateAllowed : VGA600K

set-CsMediaConfiguration –identity global -EncryptionLevel supportencryption

Get-CsMediaConfiguration –identity global

Identity            : Global
EnableQoS           : False
EncryptionLevel     : SupportEncryption
EnableSiren         : False
MaxVideoRateAllowed : VGA600K

My good friend Mike Stacy also talks about changing this setting in his blog post on creating static routes.

Comments welcomed.


Lync 2010 Media Bypass and CAC Part 1: Regions, Sites and Subnets

Media Bypass and Call Admission Control are two of the key new features in Lync 2010. There are some key elements to understand with both these new features. I am going to break it down into a four post series.

1. Regions, Sites and Subnets

2. Media Bypass

3. Call Admission Control (CAC)

4. CAC and Media Bypass dependencies


Media Bypass – This is the ability to allow media to flow directly between the Lync client and either a gateway of other associated endpoint without the need to flow the media through the Mediation Server. That is really a basic description and there are a number of different scenarios associated with Media Bypass but I just wanted to start with a simple description.

Having media flow around the Mediation Server predominately requires the use of G.711. This is not a complete departure from OCS 2007 R2 which used G.711 to improve the scalability of the Mediation Server when a client was within in 20ms of a Mediation Server. Now using Media Bypass it moves it to the next step of not having to flow that media session through the Mediation Server. Also you can now configure Lync for when this is supposed to happen rather than rely on a timing mechanism.

This doesn’t totally remove the use or need or RTAudio. There are still very compelling scenarios where RTAudio is both desired and required. A good example is Edge scenarios where media is traversing the Internet. For now though just understanding that Media Bypass improves scalability which in turns enables the colocation of the Mediation Server on the Frontend Server for Enterprise Edition and to collocate on Standard edition. Improving scaling also enables the Mediation to have a one to many gateway relationship which in OCS 2007 R2 was one to one.

CAC – This is the ability to control the bandwidth usage of your WAN links for both video and Audio. It also gives the ability to reroute to an alternative like the PSTN or Internet in situations where you have exceeded your configured bandwidth constraints. The concepts behind CAC should be well known to most that have worked with other VoIP systems, the method that Microsoft uses may differ but conceptually it is a similar theme.

Regions, Sites and Subnets

Reading through the documentation left me a little confused. It wasn’t until I started stepping through the configuration by breaking the two features apart did I begin to get a better understand how these features fit together. To help simplify the discussion I am going to focus on screen shots from the Lync Control Panel interface over PowerShell. I believe this particular feature is better suited to a UI over a command line especially with large enterprises. Although certain elements may be easier to manage through PowerShell, (such as adding additional subnets) building the initial Regions and sites structure is always going to be easier with a GUI.


The above diagram is a depiction two regions, North America and Europe, with the respective sites contained within each. I have tried to keep it simple but this is a great way to map out your infrastructure when building out more complex environments. For a small enterprise that only has one site the concepts applied here may not be applicable. Although Media Bypasss will still be something to be aware of, the concepts of Regions and Sites may not be required for your setup and you can just simply turn on Media Bypass for all calls. The only time this may be an exception for a small organization is for Wifi networks. You may decide to build a single site and leave your Wifi networks exempt from Media Bypass if you experience call quality issues using G.711 across Wifi.

What determines a region? This really depends on your network layout, the placement of you Lync assets (such as Survivable Branch Appliance and Mediation Servers) and where you plan to deploy CAC. Had I had a high density network in the Seattle area with multiple branches linking back to the Seattle datacenter I may have decided to declare that as a Region and broken it out into Sites.

Below is my North American Region with a Seattle Site and Subnet in the Lync Control Panel. I have the Seattle site which will contain my Mediation Server collocated on my Standard Edition Server. I have added the IP address as a subnet that will be enabled for Media Bypass.




The last screen shot below shows how to enable the use of Regions and Sites to be used with Media Bypass. You can turn on Always Bypass which would prevent the use of Regions etc. The only situation I can think of where this would be a good idea is a single site Enterprise no Wifi. So very limited use case.


In the following posts I will dive deep in to the configuration of Media Bypass and CAC.

Comments welcomed.


SNOM Compatible with Lync/OCS R2

In case you haven’t already seen it the SNOM 300 has been certified to work with OCS R2/ Lync. The program that SNOM has certified under (“other compatible IP phones”) is not to be confused with Optimized phones that will work with Lync from Polycom and Aastra. This is the first sub $120 dollar Open Standard SIP phone to certified against OCS/Lync.

Well done to SNOM for their continued commitment to work with Microsoft and make this happen.

From the website:

“Standard SIP phone that run snom software and is interoperable with Lync (no gateways required). It is tested to perform basic call functionalities, provide security and manageability through 3rd party software.”


Can You Blend an iPad?

Slightly off the topic of UC but still tech related. I am filling it under stuff. Ever wondered if you can blend an iPad?

The answer is yes. Now that’s what I call convergence.


Microsoft Lync Server 2010 (Release Candidate) Planning Documents

New documentation that was recently made available for the Lync 2010 (RC) release:

Determining Your Infrastructure Requirements for Lync Server 2010 (RC).doc Download

Planning for Archiving Lync Server 2010 (RC).doc Download

Planning for Clients and Devices Lync Server 2010 (RC).doc Download

Planning for Enterprise Voice Lync Server 2010 (RC).doc Download

Planning for External User Access Lync Server 2010 (RC).doc Download

Planning for IM and Conferencing Lync Server 2010 (RC).doc Download

Planning for Other Features Lync Server 2010 (RC).doc Download

Planning for Your Organization Lync Server 2010 (RC).doc Download

Microsoft Download


UCIF: Where is Avaya?

Everyone is asking where Cisco is, but I think the question really should be “where is Avaya?”. Why aren’t they taking advantage of a prime opportunity? Both Avaya and Cisco have addressed requests to join the UCIF with what is a standard response of “it’s not a standards body”. What both Avaya and Cisco are not recognizing is that no one in the industry is implementing these standards the same anyway. All the major players are already taking part in the standards bodies and yet everyone still implements them differently. This means there needs to be a new approach to implementing standards.

So what of Avaya? They have the opportunity right now to put pressure on one of their number one competitors in the IP-PBX and UC space, Cisco. It’s not like Avaya are going to be alone in the UCIF. Avaya have recognized that many of their key partners have already joined. Most obviously HP, but let’s not forget, Acme Packets, Juniper, Polycom and LifeSize.

Below is a comment by Deb Kline from Avaya:

When asked about its interest in and opinion of the UCIF effort, Avaya spokeswoman Deb Kline responded: “Avaya has long been a supporter of open standards and has actively participated in dozens of standards bodies to drive cross-industry interoperability. These include the International Multimedia Teleconferencing Consortium, Internet Engineering Task Force and the SIP Forum to name but a few. UCIF is not a standards body. We believe true multi-vendor interoperability will be dependent upon active participation in the appropriate standards bodies by the majority of players in the UC market place. “That said, we have deep and long-standing relationships with many the key players in UCIF, including HP, Polycom, LifeSize and Juniper and others, and we will leverage these partnerships to see how UCIF evolves,” she added. “Avaya may choose to join in the future.” Source here.

I think Avaya are missing a key opportunity to show they are committed to UC interoperability beyond standards bodies. Cisco is only interested in participating on their own terms and dominate yet another industry body which makes me think they will never join. While taking the same stance as Cisco may seem to be hold some sort of power position it really isn’t. Any current success or work the UCIF does, Avaya can take no credit for and in the end with so many companies (including Avaya partners) signing up to feel the pain of interoperability not being part of the UCIF is making Avaya look like an outcast.

The UCIF have already started to work on feeling the pain so to speak by recently holding a come one come all adhoc interoperability meeting. Where else has this happened in such a public forum? Nowhere. We are seeing for the first time what industry standards are lacking for interoperability to be real. Real world testing. I am sure some companies are saying we do interoperability testing every day and implement according to standards but yet here we are.

The whole sit back and wait attitude is somewhat disappointing on Avaya’s behalf. To Cisco’s credit at least they have taken a position and said we won’t join until some changes take place. But not taking a position shows a lack of industry leadership. I am not sure what message they want to send to customers but when they say we are waiting to see things how things evolve says to me we are letting others lead the industry while we follow.

In the end I hope Avaya does join the UCIF. With their commitment to UC and standards bodies having the large vendors take part in the UCIF with an equal footing is important. This is an important move forward not just as we move forward with on-premise UC solution but also with cloud based solutions.

Comments welcomed.


Voice Resiliency in Lync 2010

Voice resiliency is by far my favorite feature I like to demo with Lync 2010. How many times have you been at a hotel with a lousy wireless connection and the moment the connection drops so does your call, then only to have to dial back in. Well that has changed with Lync. So the screen shots I have taken aren’t all from the same call. It was a bit hard to get a complete sequence in one go so I had to do it over a few times to get the screen shots but this is a good flow of shots of what it actually looks like.

This first screen shot I have a call up to myself. This happens to be my cell phone and as you can see it is resolving it to me because of my published cell phone number.


In this case I have disabled my wireless connection and I have hardwired Ethernet plugged into my laptop so that I can easily simulate dropping a wireless connection. Next shot I have now disconnected my Ethernet cable.


Not only do I have an indication that the server connectivity is limited but the call bars are red on the call window and the client has logged me out.


Next I have plugged the cable back in and you can see the call has been reestablished and the audio is flowing again but the client is still logged out.


Lastly, the call is back up and the client has reestablished connectivity. This is a cool feature not just for demo but has real practical use when you network connectivity is being affected and your call is dropping in and out. A few weeks ago I was in the situation I described and had network connectivity issues. Rather than just give up because I had to keep reconnecting, having the ability to automatically reconnect took some of the pain out of the situation. Beyond that it shows the thought that has been put into the user experience with Lync. You are full informed of what is happening the whole time. Had this only affected the client the audio would never had dropped which is an important part of keeping voice up and active during adverse network conditions.

Next post we will take a closer look at what is going on under the covers.

Comments welcomed.


Microsoft Lync 2010

There are going to be a bunch of press releases and everything else that comes with a rebranding today, so I am not going to go into the details of the “why” with the new name. What I will say is that I really like the new name. It gives the old Communications Server product suite a great identity which I think it lacked with the CS name. How many other vendors are using the word “Communications” (you can throw “Unified” in there as well)? Nearly all of them. So it’s a great break away from what are now cliché product names.

So congrats to the Microsoft Team for deciding on a great new product name for a what's going to be the best release yet.

Lync me!Get Lync here.


Communications Server 14: Web Conferencing

One of the new features in CS 14 I have been trying to take advantage of recently is the ability to do Web Conferencing from a browser. That statement in itself seems a little so what. But with CS 14 the web experience is much improved across different browsers.


The first screen shot shows the new Lobby functionality. As you can see Donald Duck is waiting for entry into the meeting but because he is external to my organization he is place into the lobby. This functionality is fully controllable and can be set to allow unauthenticated users to join but I like the control.


The shot above shows me in the process of sharing as well as Donald now in the meeting. There are a number of options and with having two screens attached to my PC I can easily select which monitor to share.


This next screen shot shows Donald in the meeting and I am sharing my screen with him. Although you can not see my screen with this shot the arrow across from Donald's name shows he is part of the sharing session.


The last shot shows Donald on his device viewing the meeting using the Firefox browser. You can also see he is looking at his options to join the meetings audio. Option 1 allows him to have the system call him on his number or option 2 provides the dial in details.

Even though I have not covered all the options here you can start to see the new meeting experience has some big improvements not just for PC users but for MAC and Linux as well.

Comments welcomed.


Communications Server 14 Buzz and Rumors

While I can neither confirm nor deny these rumors around the name change of Communications Server 14, I thought this article was interesting. It is certainly creating some buzz around CS14, not that there wasn’t one already.

Also of interest is this article by BJ Haberkorn from Communications Server Product Management. Its great to see partners getting excited and developing products around the release with more to come.


Comparing Cisco and Microsoft UC – Fact or Fiction

If you haven’t seen it already Cisco recently released a new marketing document comparing Cisco and Microsoft UC offerings. Although I would love to take this document apart piece by piece and analyze all the bullet points I found one piece of information in it that really intrigued me. From point 3:

“Cisco also provides a richer set of instant messaging capabilities, including point-to-point and group chat, offline chat, IM logging and compliance options, and persistent chat, which is included in the same client and server solution, unlike the Microsoft offering, which requires a separate client and server for persistent chat. Cisco presence solutions interoperate with Microsoft Office Communicator, IBM Sametime, and Google Talk, without the need for additional servers in the demilitarized zone (DMZ), saving cost and operational complexity.”

I found this interesting in that there is specific information in this paragraph that is contrary to the information that they supply in their own SRND documentation which only makes this statement true through omission of actual facts or at best clever wording. The first section talks about group chat and in particular it makes mention of Microsoft requiring a separate server and client. This is true but what they fail to mention is that their own group chat requires a separate database to function, which means you will require a separate server if you don’t already support PostgreSQL. From the Cisco CUCM 8.0 SRND:

“Persistent group chat requires an external database to store chat rooms and conversations. The only external database supported is PostgreSQL (see “


Next is my favorite. They go to great lengths to explain that they do not require additional servers in the DMZ. Hmmm, this is true in the sense you do not need a “server” as such but what other equipment, I wonder. From the SRND:

“ Inter-domain federation requires two explicit DNS domains to be configured, as well as a security appliance (Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance) in the DMZ to terminate federated connections with the enterprise.”

So no, you don’t require a server, what you require is proprietary hardware made by Cisco, an ASA (Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance). This is true whether you are federating with external organizations like Google Talk or internally federating with your own OCS deployment.

So two sentences, two questionable points. This is one paragraph that I believe brings the whole document into question because its hides facts about their own solution.

My Opinion

I see nothing wrong with companies going at it, and can understand Cisco forming the information about Microsoft in this document to make their own UC story look better (however flaky that may be). What makes me confused is that rather than use the facts about Cisco UC to make their own proposition look better they omit facts about their own solution to beef it up even more. There is some very clever use of wording in this document that if this is what it takes to make you look better, then maybe it shouldn’t have been released to begin with.

There is no denying that Cisco are good at marketing, but are they marketing fact or fiction?

Comments welcomed.


Communications Server 14 Roles Based Access Control

Doing demo blog posts are some what difficult without having to post every single screenshot, but I am going to have a go anyway. This is another popular request from customers in regards to getting better system control for Communication's Server. How do I let the correct Administrator get access to the correct configuration so they can do their job?

In CS 14 this has been solved using Roles Based Access Control similar to that used in Exchange and other Microsoft platforms.


As you can see in screen shot above I am adding my test user to the security group named CSVoiceAdministrators (all the new Admin roles begin with CS in the beta which makes it easy to find them).


Once this has taken effect in Active Directory the Voice Admin will have limited access to only voice configuration in CS 14 as shown in the screenshot below. This is both for the Web Admin interface and PowerShell commands.


Of course these screen scraps are all of the early beta so the RTM look my be somewhat different but you get the idea.


End User Tip: Adding Telephone Contacts to Communicator 2007 R2

This is really a pretty simple tip but very handy at times. I guess it’s the equivalent of adding a speed dial to a telephone.

Type a phone number in the Search box, and then drag the number from the Search Results box into a group in your Contact List.

See, simple.

Another nice thing about this feature is you can start a conference call with these numbers when you place them in a group by right mouse click on the group and selecting start a conference call.


You would be surprised at just how many people don’t know you can do this.